The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Evidence that mutation is the cause of change in evolution has not been proven

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/13/2012 Category: Science
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,585 times Debate No: 25126
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (11)
Votes (1)




The National Academy of Science says "mutation is the ultimate source of genetic variation"(1) and that "Evolution explains natural phenomena by building on observations that can be tested and analyzed"(2)
Case- My position is that the experiments that have been conducted and observations from the fossil records do not support that change from one species to another has occured by this method. For clarification- a species is animals that can breed with each other, so by defintion the finches on Galapagos island are one species.
According to the theory of evolution, beneficial mutations acted upon natural selection provide the driving force behind natures production of new creatures. Thus we get birds, dinosaurs, people, etc by these means. The Academy says this has been proven by observation and experiments. My position is the observations and experiemnts have not proven their case.



I accept.

Before I begin, I wish to define a few things.

Mutation - Change in the DNA sequence of a gene [1][2][3]

Gene - Unit of heredity in a living organism [4]

I also wish to stipulate that Pro accept, and does not question, the theory of evolution itself, nor the idea that genes are passed down from generation to generation. If Pro would like to debate those ideas, I would be happy to do so on another debate.

Genes, as per the definition above, are the units of heredity in an organism. They control the characteristics of said organism. Microevolution, or the change in allelic frequencies of genes in a gene pool over time[5], can and does occur without mutations. However, macroevolution, evolution that occurs above the level of species[6], studies speciation and the change from one species into another over time. How, one might ask, does a chimpanzee and human split off from a common ancestor and become incapable of breeding? Their genomes are different, i.e. they (chimps) do not have the same genomes as we do. They do not share about 4% of their genome with us[7]. How, then, did their genome become different from ours when we shared a common ancestor? Answer: their DNA sequence, and ours, changed. This change in the DNA sequence is exactly what a mutation is. It simply, by definition is what happens, and here is a distinct case. More cases of the same thing occuring (stretching out to all the number of species ever existing on the planet) can be elaborated on if need be.

Now that a specific case of this occuring has been elaborated on, the general concept behind it can be discussed. An organism differs from another by its traits, which are determined by its genome. Different traits mean a different genome, which means that at some point, the genome of the common ancestor of the two organisms was changed. This change in the DNA sequence, the genome, of an organism is what mutation is.

Therefore, there is direct evidence for mutation being the source of genetic diversity. The concept behind evolution supports this. Back to you, Pro.
Debate Round No. 1


First, let me thank my worthy opponent for accepting the debate.
Let me begin by saying I will not be able to stipulate that evolution is true since the underlying premise of the debate is that I do not believe that the evidence supports the theory. I directed the debate toward two things it has not conclusively shown-evidence and analysis.
According to the theory,beneficial mutations acted upon natural selection to create new creatures such as the bat from the squirrel. Most mutations are harmful but supposedly a good mutation slips into the gene pool and these new mutations created new animals. If this is true and we could speed up the evolutinary process, we should be able to show it in the lab. Enter the fruit fly. It is perfect for studybecause it goes from egg to adult in about 10 days. Since the early 1900's, multiplied millions of fruit fly generations have been bred and studied in labs for different mutations. So far wide have been the studies, that it is the equivalent of millions of years of supposed evolutionary time. The scientists have found they could only produce small changes and then sterility sets in because mutaions are harmful and have limits. What do see after all the experiments done on them?? We still see fruit flies! That is all the best minds of research see. One researcher named Richard Goldschmidt reacted this way, "After observing fruit flies for many years, he fell into despair-the changes he said"were so hopelessly micro that if a thousand mutations were combined into one specimen, there would still be no new species"(1)
My next point is analyzing the fossil records. Fossil records should on the whole support the claim that today's complex organisms evolved step by tiny step based on mutations and natural selection. It is generally conceded that the fossil evidence is stable over long periods of time. This is called "stasis" in the field of evolution. Then new forms appear already developed without the eviedence of preceding transitional forms. Even Darwin himself knew the record did not support his theory and the record has actually become worse since his day. In fact it was not religous people who opposed it at first but palentologis since they knew the fossil record did not support it. They analyised it and found it wanting. The extreme rarity of transitional forms has been dexcribed as the "great trade secret of palentology")2)In addition, extinctions are typically due to catastrophies such as comets not imaginary evolutionary forces that kill out weaker species and bring forth their stronger more able cousins. This "flies" in the face of evolutionay theories.
Evolution has many holes in it and the evidence is lacking in how species develop. If it is a science, it should stand up to testing, which I think it has not. I turn the time over to my opponent.
1. Darwin Retired by Norman Macbeth 1971 p.33
2.Darwin on trial pp59-60
wikipeadia-fruit flies


I would like to thank Pro for his arguments.

First, I will rebut my opponent's arguments. First, the fruit fly. Pro claims the studies on the fruit fly amount to "millions of years of supposed evolutionary time". I dispute this claim. The total number of fruit flies in the world is most definitely in the billions (considering there are 4,400 species, and their numbers, they being prolific, far greater than our own), and they live three weeks. I would like to ask Pro how scientists compiled "millions of years of evolutionary time" in what has been studies from the '80s and 90's - only 20 to 30 years. Scientists would have to have trillions of fruit flies, all being tracked, to meet this requirement. Even a thousand, or a hundred years of evolutionary time is a wild exaggeration.

As to Pro's point about the fruit fly changes - do you have any studies to back that up? That no changes to the fruit flies were made because of mutations? In the human genome, 2-3% codes for proteins[1]. The rest have no effect that we know of. The same would hold for the fruit fly. The great probability is that Goldschmidt hit these bases repeatedly, and produced no new effect. Here is a study where scientists did get a change in phenotype via muations - [2]. Take, for another example, nylon-eating bacteria. Bacteria were discovered in 1975 that could eat nylon - which was not invented until 1935[3]. Japanese scientists discovered the point of mutation[4]. While the exact mechanism of it has been disputed (frameshift, deletion, insertion, etc.), the fact remains mutations produced a beneficial trait in these bacteria, and they evolved. Scientists later discovered 470 of these types of muations in the human genome[5].

Finally, I shall respond to Pro's point on the fossil record. Pro claims because we have a lack of transitionary forms, this disproves evolution via mutation. I would like to introduce the theory of punctuated equilibrium to explain this[6]. As the theory states, stasis is the dominant state for most of a species' history, and is only broken when environmental or other such circumstances force an evolutionary change from the original form that was largely beneficial in the past. This theory makes sense; if the form a species has is working, why evolve away from it? It is only when the form is no longer useful or advantageous that it would need to change. And, as an example of one such form, perhaps in a period of breaking away from stasis, I present Archaeopteryx[7,8]. It is thought to be a transitional form between small, predatory dinosaurs and today's birds, and is a perfect example of what Pro is looking for.

All in all, Pro's arguments have not stood up to close inspection. I would also like the voters to consider that Pro dropped, and thus conceded, my argument considering the chimpanzee-human relation.

You're on, Pro.

  5. Okamura K, Feuk L, Marquès-Bonet T, Navarro A, Scherer SW (December 2006). "Frequent appearance of novel protein-coding sequences by frameshift translation". Genomics 88 (6): 690–7. doi:10.1016/j.ygeno.2006.06.009. PMID 16890400.
Debate Round No. 2


I thank my opponent for responding. This has been a fun debate for me!
Let me first address you made toward toward respective voters. You said I dropped the argument about chimanzee-human relation. You had no sources in your first round therefore I did not need to address those points. In adition, you did not address the catastrophe argument which flies in the face of evolution by random mutation killing out the undesirables and slowly replacing them with the more fit.
Let me discuss the fossil record. You admit that the fossil record has very few transitional forms since you are now arguing for punctuated equilibriam. There is a small sub set of people who knew the fossil record did not match the theory so they had to come up with something to match the record. Others have come up with the hopefully monster theory. The problem is that they have given up on explaining the mechanism by which evolution works. The theory then becomes one of a metaphysical idea that can not be tested. It removes the theory even further from science. The neo darwinists at least have a mechanism that can be tested. You mention Archaeopteryx in relation to the fossil record. The problem is that it has no predecessors. The fossils that look like it lived millions of years after it did. The fossils that precede it look nothing like it. It sems to be an odd creation that went nowhere knid of like the edsel ford. In addition I state again "the extreme rarity" of the fossil reord is the "trade secret of paleontology".
You mention bacteria. There are more studies to be done with this no doubt. However a few points-this could be a design element which would take this debate in another direction. They could be designed to adapt to enviroments when tranposae enzymes on the pOAD2 plasmid were activated. The bigger question is if rapidly mutating bacterium were proof of evolution, then after a few billion years of evolution, the only life forms we would have would be extremly sturdy bacteria and virusis. I mean people develop tolerance for things all the time but they don't turn into new creatures. consider malaria-It is a ferocious parasite that loves to attack anything that gets in its way, However, it needs a warm climate to reproduce. If a mutant parasite evolved that could handle lower temps, it could invade areas now closed to it. It has not done that. Where is evolution? Where is the science?
Now let us return to the fruit fly. On e xperiment the fly was selected for a drease in bristles and in another for an increase in bristles starting with a parent stock averaging 36 bristles. After many generations the scientists were able to lower the bristle average to 25. What happened then, the line became sterile and died out. On the other side they were able to rais the average bristle to 56 bristles in the other experiment, then they dies out. Why? because mutations are by and large bad and harmful and there limits to change.
In conclusion, I want to thank my opponent. It has been fun.
Animal species and evolution Ernst Mayr1963
Darwin on Trial Phillip Johnson
The Edge of Evolution by Michael Behe


I wish to thank my opponent for his arguments.

Pro claims I did not have sources for R1. I did. I, unfortunately, forgot to add them, and so I added them to the commments section instead. If the voters wish to penalize me for it, so be it. I apologize, but Pro still should have brought up why he wasn't responding to them in R2, as I would have directed him to the comments.
Pro brings up a catastrophe argument. This i addressed with punctuated equilibrium. I said that as environments change (which is part of any environmental catastrophe), the forms that used to be tolerable were not longer tolerable, and evolution, or a break from stasis, happens[1]. Punctuated equilibrium explains why forms change so rapidly after catstrophes, and why previously succeassful forms die out.

Pro then attacks punctuated equilibrium, calling it untestable and a "metaphysical idea". I do not understand where this comes from. Punctuated equilibrium can be tested. If, in the fossil record, we were to identify a place where the environment changed rapidly, we could then test it. If animal forms continued to evolve slowly and did not really react to the change, punctuated equilibrium is wrong. If the survivors rapidly diversify to take advantage of their new environment, punctuated equilibrium is roght. We can identify such a time and place; it is the K/T extinction event, where the dinosaurs died out. That, for sure, was a huge change in environment. Right after the K/T event, there were approximately 40 genera and 10 families of mammal[4]. 10 million years later, there were between 130 and 200 genera, 78 families and about 4,000 species[2,4]. That is rapid, punctuated diversification from a mammalian body plan that had worked well since their emergence in the Triassic - 150 mya before K/T. In 10 million years, they had diversified to almost 8 times as many families of mammals. That is evidence and is a scenario in which the predictions of punctuated equilibirum proved true.

Archaeopteryx, according to Pro, is an "odd creature", completely isolated and not surrounded by close relatives. I would direct readers to Ornitholestes, a dinosaur with a similar body structure, living at the same time and place, who was closely related and is a viable predecessor[9]. Later, Jeholornis, the first known bird, appeared, and is very much a more advanced version of Archaeopteryx[10].

Pro, it seems, did not read the article on the nylon-eating bacteria. The article clearly showed that a double replication followed by a frameshift mutation caused the change in the enzymes, allowing them to consume nylon. Pro talks of transposase enzymes, which function to move genes around the genome[3]. They do not change the gene or mutate it in any way unless they, too, are deficient because of a mutation. Pro then asks why extremely sturdy bacteria have not evolved. The answer is they have. Take extremophiles, which can survive in temperatures as high as 125 degrees Celsius, as low as -15 degrees C, a high a pH as 9 and as low a pH as 2[6]. Pro's questions about why malaria hasn't evolved to handle colder temperatures do not take into account that the type of host may also be important, and making malaria resistant to cold would not solve that issue.

As for Pro's comments on fruit flies - here, he is not discussing macroevolution. He is not discussing mutation. He is discussing microevolution, or the change in allelic frequencies (an allele being the different versions of a gene[7]) in a population[8]. The study was not creating any mutations, and the flies' genomes were unchanged. They were changing allelic frequencies in the population, and it is completely unrelated to the resolution.

Thus, the resolution is negated. I wish to thank my opponent for this engaging debate, and Vote Con!

Due to the length my sources will, again, be posted in the comments.
Debate Round No. 3
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by 16kadams 4 years ago
pro is a votebomber and does not know how the voting system works
Posted by TheBossToss 4 years ago
Micro changes were not difficult to make. Obviously if you take microevolution to the max and, say make human arms shorter, eventually there will be complications. You cannot compare micro and macro.

As for transitional forms, there are an abundance of them. I should have used this source in the debate (darn!), but here it is:
Posted by badbob 4 years ago
First to my friend TheBoss Toss, my point with the flies is how difficult it is to acquire micro changes much less macro, thus the experiments.
To ADT_Clone, I have looked at many fossil records. I was at a great dinosaur site in St. George Utah earlier this summer. It was awesome! However, I beg to differ on the fossil record. The fossil record clearly does not support evolution. There should be an adundance of transitional forms everywhere, yet each new discovery makes the case even more difficult to prove.
Posted by ADT_Clone 4 years ago
@badbob Ever looked at fossil records?

Through the fossil records and our genomes, scientists can PROVE that certain animals are descendants of other animals, which are descendants of other animals and so on. As everything in science is a theory, it is always subject to be changed. However, evolution is a science because it has matched all known evidence we have found so far, and it is the best explanation we have on the development of life on our planet.

It fits with the large amount of data we have collected and has the ability to explain the data and make predictions from the data, which is reason to accept the evolutionary theory as a solid, mainstream science.
Posted by TheBossToss 4 years ago
Just because it is over doesn't mean it's finished. You are obviously not convinced. However, you keep going back to the fly experiment, which was microevolution and not macroevolution at all. Macroevolution was not being tested for in the experiments you keep saying disprove macroevolution. We can still be friends. I disagree with a lot of my friends. I HOPE we are still friends :)
Posted by badbob 4 years ago
The Boss Toss, the debate is over, why are you still debating me. I thought we were friends! Seriously, I have no problems with microevolution. Even people do that-thats why we have gyms where people work out. As for many generations, thats why I discussed the fruit fly experiments.
Posted by TheBossToss 4 years ago
Because it takes so much time. How would you model that? That would be an experiment lasting many generations of human lifetimes. And as to ADT_Clone's point, they demonstrate microevolution, or at least microevolution in a CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT, WITH NO SELECTIVE PRESSURES TO FAVOR THE MUTATIONS OR DISFAVOR THEM.
Posted by badbob 4 years ago
Well clone, I have read some of them and I think you are misrepresenting them. If evolution is to be accepted as "science" then where are the experiements and evidence to show that change occurs above the level of species(macro evolution). It has not been shown. The fruit fly studies clearly demonstarte the limited nature of change and even then often temporary.
Posted by ADT_Clone 4 years ago
Pro, I suggest actually reading the fruit fly experiment yourself. You are misrepresenting it. The goal of the experiment from memory was to demonstrate some other fact of evolution. I cant remember what it was sorry.

But when you say millions of years of evolution time, you really mean a lot more mutations than other animals. Evolution also involves natural selection pressures, so whilst you could mutate the DNA, it wouldnt have an effect in the short term as the selection pressures would remain relatively constant.

Even if the scientists tried to control these, they would have to use a contained environment, and can not easily control what mutations actually occur(as they simply used radiation). So even with a large amount of mutations, the one that would match the selection pressure control would be unlikely.

The lack of evolution through mutation was what the scientists expected in this particular experiment.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Magicr 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro showed an incorrect understanding of evolution by using such arguments as the fly experiment. Con was able to clearly show that this was not even part of evolution and instead had to do with allele frequency. Con was also able to explain how the fossil record ties in to the theory of evolution.